The 3,000-word report starts off with the misleading headline, "Blackface incident at Post cartoonist's 2018 Halloween party resurfaces amid protests." "Resurfaces" is an inaccurate way to describe an event that was never covered in the past, as far as I can tell from a Google search. "Blackface incident" is gripping, however.
The story goes on to provide a hazy account about an argument among people who attended a yearly costume party hosted by Tom Toles, a WaPo editorial cartoonist. According to the newspaper, people often attend dressed as public figures, such as Supreme Court justices.
A middle-aged white woman named Sue Schafer attended the party wearing blackface makeup as part of a tasteless joke mocking former NBC morning show host Megyn Kelly. Kelly had been fired that month for an offensive explanation of how wearing blackface can be acceptable. Schafer wore a business suit and a name tag that said, "I'm Megyn Kelly."
Among the people who said they confronted Schafer about her costume were Lexie Gruber, a 27-year-old woman of Puerto Rican descent, and Lyric Prince, a 36-year-old African American woman. What happened next is a little unclear, with Gruber claiming that Schafer "harassed two young women of color."
Another account suggests that Gruber screamed at Schafer and forced her to leave. Prince said she criticized Schafer’s makeup and told her: “You look horrible." Schafer said Gruber and Prince told her she was ugly and had wrinkles. In other words, it's hard to tell who was harassing whom among the contradicting claims of victimhood.
The full story may never be known, considering that many party guests said they had a hazy recollection of the incident or couldn't remember it all. It's baffling that WaPo would dedicate reporting resources to an incident that didn't deserve a story almost two years ago.
The incident didn’t end there, with Gruber festering over the confrontation before deciding she needed to track down Schafer amid the heightened awareness about racism, following the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
Last week, she emailed Toles to ask for Schafer's identity, and he initially said he didn't know Schafer. It's not clear what happened next, or why WaPo decided to assign reporters to look into the matter.
I can speculate endlessly about what happened inside WaPo, but what's clear is that the newspaper determined that it needed to publicize a dispute among three private individuals. Schafer, who was aware that WaPo was working on a story after being interviewed, told her employer about it and was subsequently fired.
WaPo's editors are irresponsible and should be embarrassed for pursuing a story about a mostly forgotten incident that didn't merit publication.